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Elementary school welcomes founding principal

May 05, 2008

University Public Schools Initiative, an affiliate of ASU, has been making significant steps toward the opening in the fall of its first school, the Polytechnic Center for Education Innovation.

UPSI has announced the appointment of Donna Bullock as principal for the new school, effective July 1.

Bullock has 17 years of experience in K-12 education. She taught in the Kyrene School District for 10 years and served as the Summer Academy Principal before moving to Christ the King Catholic School in Phoenix as principal. While there, she completed the Western Catholic Educational Association and North Central Association accreditation process for the school.

“Donna Bullock brings to our first school an understanding of the importance of working with families to meet the individual needs of the students and commitment to constant improvement in student achievement,” says Larry Pieratt, executive director of UPSI.

UPSI also is working with the city of Mesa to secure special use permits for a new facility to be used as the temporary site for the Polytechnic Center of Education Innovation. The facility is located about two miles north of the Polytechnic campus and will provide a safe, clean and secure environment, with all the amenities needed to operate a school. After the first year, this space will house the UPSI network office.

“This temporary space provides a less-disruptive environment, while construction of the new school building is under way at ASU’s Polytechnic campus for completion by fall 2009,” Pieratt says.

Construction of the new facility, which will be located on about 24 acres in the southwestern portion of the Polytechnic campus, is expected to begin in August. Once completed, the school will accommodate students from preschool age to 12th grade in fall 2009.

UPSI held a parent meeting May 1 at the temporary space to discuss policies, allow parents to meet Bullock, and for the parents to ask questions about the school and temporary space.

This fall, the center will welcome 234 students for K-6 classes. That’s enough students to fill two sections of kindergarten and one section for each subsequent grade and there is a waiting list, Pieratt says.

“The school is organized in clusters, so grades 1-2 will be together, 3-4 and 5-6,” Pieratt says. “This is a multigraded approach that groups and regroups students by ability according to skill, not necessarily content.”

The curriculum will be standards-based and delivered in various formats from question-based instruction to hands-on to inquiry. Whole group, direct instruction also will be used in a limited fashion, depending on content, Pieratt says. There will be particular focus on areas of the curriculum that have been developed by university faculty in collaboration with UPSI staff, using data from the state that demonstrated areas of need statewide.

ASU faculty from nutrition, physical education, fine arts, early childhood, speech and language, science and mathematics have contributed.

“The input from ASU faculty members is an important part of what makes this school unique, and we hope to continue to work with many more,” Pieratt says.

For information, contact Pieratt at (480) 727-1612.